BIOGRAPHIES OF SOME MEN PROMINENT IN THE
DEVELOPMENT OF WESTERN NEBRASKA
BERTON KENYON BUSHEE, banker and
statesman, has had a career significantly marked by courage,
self reliance, marked initiative and executive ability,
which bring normally in their train a full measure of
success. He has begotten the popular confidence and esteem
that are important along the line of enterprise in which he
has engaged and led to his election to high office in
political life and he thus has secured status as a
representative figure in the financial and political life of
western Nebraska and the Panhandle. No further voucher for
him is needed than the statement that he is president of the
Citizens State Bank, of Kimball. It has been through the
effective policies inaugurated by Mr. Bushee that the
Citizens Bank has increased its deposits and business within
the late years and materially assisted in the development of
Maine. They came to western Nebraska at an early day and were well known pioneers of the Panhandle. Two children have been born to this union, Helen Bernice and Elizabeth Ruth.
As one of the representative business men and legislators, and progressive, public-spirited citizens of Kimball, county, Mr. Bushee merits special recognition in the annals of the Panhandle and this section in the opening up and development of which he has taken such an energetic and active part.
BENJAMIN F. GENTRY. -- Commonwealths have great need of capable men of broad vision and conscientious purpose, who will take time to study various problems of public necessity and serve faithfully for the general welfare. In Benjamin F. Gentry, western Nebraska has such a man. He is prominently identified with the state's vast irrigation projects, and is proud of the fact that he was one of the two men who plowed the first furrow for irrigation purposes in his part of the state. He is known all over Scottsbluff county through serving in public capacities, and is active in the business life of Gering in the line of abstracts and real estate.
Benjamin Franklin Gentry was born in Nodaway county, Missouri, March 24, 1861, the son of William E. and Rebecca (Wiles) Gentry, the former of whom was probably born in Kentucky and the latter in Indiana. The father of Mr. Gentry served in the Civil War for a short time, returning then to his home and succumbing to an attack of sickness. Benjamin F. was then nine months old, the youngest of his parents' three children. The others survive: Milton, who is in the teaming business at Weeping Water, Nebraska, and Rachel Catherine, the widow of J. W. Hostetter. She resides at Omaha and has property in Cass county, Nebraska. After the death of the father, the mother moved with her children to Mills county, Iowa, and subsequently to Cass county, Nebraska, where she died in 1917. Her second marriage was to Mattis Akeson, and they have had two children: Thor W., a farmer near Weeping Water, and Emma, the wife of James Breckenbridge, a farmer living near Manley, Nebraska. She was an admirable woman in every way and was a devoted member of the Christian church.
Mr. Gentry remained at home and attended the public schools in Cass county until he was fourteen years old, when he went to live with an uncle, Captain Isaac Wells on a farm one mile from Plattsmouth, Nebraska, where he later attended high school. After taking a commercial course in the college at Valparaiso, Indiana, he worked for six months as a deputy collector in the office of the county treasurer of Cass county. Mr. Gentry then went to Hamilton county, Nebraska, where he handled grain for W. H. Newell and Company of Plattsmouth, until 1886, when be came to what is now Scottsbluff county, which at that time was Cheyenne county, as Scottsbluff county was not yet organized, and homesteaded, continuing to live on his farm until he was elected county clerk, in the fall of 1888, being the first man elected to that office, when he came to Gering, where he has resided ever since. He served two terms as county clerk, and while in office became interested in the abstract business, which led to his purchase in 1909 of the O. W. Gardner Scottsbluff Abstract Company. Mr. Gentry has since given close attention to this important business, also handling a large amount of real estate in city and county, nevertheless he has found the time to accept responsibility in connection with the great irrigation projects that are interesting progressive men all over the state. He has been a director of a number of the ditch commissions, and is serving as such at present, in reference to the Minatare ditch in Scottsbluff county. During a long directorate, he assisted in the building of what is known as the "nine-mile ditch." He is a member of the school board, on which he has given careful, honest service for thirty years.
On November 30, 1890, Mr. Gentry was united in marriage to Miss Cora R. Johnson, who was born in Cass county, Nebraska, near Weeping Water, a daughter of Daniel D. and Elizabeth A. (Lathrop) Johnson. Mrs. Gentry's mother was born in Ohio and died near Weeping Water, Nebraska. The father was born in Pennsylvania. After marriage he moved to Iowa and during the Civil War served three years as a member of the Twenty-ninth Iowa volunteer infantry, suffering wounds at Helena, Arkansas. After the close of the war he came with his family to Nebraska and homesteaded on the present site of Wabash, Nebraska. He survives and makes his home at Scottsbluff, Scottsbluff county. Mr. and Mrs. Gentry have four children: Harold E., who was educated in the State University at Lincoln, is chief chemist for the Great Western Sugar Company; Willard Max, a graduate of the Wesleyan University at Lincoln, will enter the medical profession; and Elizabeth, a student in both universities at Lincoln. Mrs. Gentry is a member of the
*where he remained until he was elected county* (sic) Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Gentry belongs to the Masonic fraternity and to the Eastern Star as does Mrs. Gentry. Politically he is a Republican.
NOTE: text between *'s given as it appears in the book.
AMON R. DOWNER, who is serving in his second consecutive term as treasurer of Scottsbluff county, belongs to old pioneer stock, and his business interests have always been centered here. Although young in years for the heavy responsibilities of his office, he was not without official experience when first elected, and the efficient, careful, methodical performance of his public duties has afforded universal satisfaction.
Amon R. Downer was born in Hitchcock county, Nebraska, October 8, 1891, the elder of two sons born to Marion R. and Jennie (Ball) Downer. Mr. Downer's brother, Marvin T., entered military service in September, 1917, and was sent to Europe as an army truck driver, with the American Expeditionary Forces. The parents of Mr. Downer were born in Iowa and came from there to Nebraska, where his father homesteaded in the eighties. He was a Republican in politics and he belonged to the Methodist Episcopal church. The mother of Mr. Downer, who is now the wife of W. R. Wolffenden, a merchant, resides at Gering. Her father, James Ball, came to Nebraska soon after the close of the Civil War, in which he had participated as a soldier and suffered from wounds. He homesteaded in this county and lived here the rest of his life, his death occurring in 1916, one of the old veterans of the Grand Army.
Amon R. Downer was educated in the public schools of Gering and in the State University at Lincoln, where he was a student two years. Afterward he was employed for some months in the construction department of the Union Pacific Railroad, and then went into the office of the county treasurer as clerk and deputy. In 1917 he was elected treasurer and re-elected in 1918 and is still serving.
In 1915 Mr. Downer was united in marriage to Miss Bertie Margaret Lackey, who was born at Elmwood, Nebraska. She is a daughter of Andrew and Eliza (Campbell) Lackey, natives of Toronto, Canada, who came to, Nebraska in 1879 and homesteaded. The father died in 1904 but the mother still lives at Gering. They had fourteen children of whom eight survive. Mr. and Mrs. Downer had one child, Virginia Bess, who died in infancy. They belong to the Methodist Epicopal (sic) church. He is a Scottish Rite Mason and has been secretary of his lodge. Politically he is a Republican.
VALLE B. KIRKHAM, one of the popular officials of Scottsbluff county, now serving in his second term as county clerk, was born at Orrick, in Ray county, Missouri, March 14, 1883. When he came to Nebraska, he brought with him no capital except an excellent education, even a technical one. He has made his own way in the world and in such a manner as to command the respect and confidence of his fellow-citizens, and in large measure he has their friendly esteem.
The Kirkhams, in the person of David R. Kirkham, grandfather of Valle B., came many years ago from Virginia to Missouri and became a tobacco manufacturer there. On the maternal side, the Blythes, were of Tennessee, and from that state the grandfather, Riley Blythe, came to western Missouri, where he acquired 1500 acres of land. He became a man of political significance, served two terms in the state legislature and afterward was elected to the state senate. Mr. Kirkham's parents are C. R. and Elizabeth (Blythe) Kirkham, the former of whom was born seventy years ago at St. Louis, Missouri, and the latter near Orrick, where they yet reside. The mother is a member of the Christian church. The father is a Democrat in politics and for many years has been an Odd Fellow. Prior to 1874, when he moved to Ray county, he was associated with his father in the tobacco manufacturing business at St. Louis. Of his family of eight sons and daughters, the following are living: W. H., county surveyor and a civil engineer, who lives at Richmond, Missouri; A. L., a farmer near Orrick; Valle B., who resides at Gering, Nebraska; Pattie, the wife of W. P. Wolfe, living near Orrick; Dallas, married Claud Heather, who is a farmer in Ray county; Ross, who is a farmer near Orrick, and Lillian, is a teacher at Orrick.
After completing the high school course at Richmond, Missouri, Valle B. Kirkham spent three years in the state normal school at Warrensburg, six months in the state university, and then took a special course in pharmacy, at Highland Park, Des Moines, Iowa. For some years afterward he divided his attention between farm labor and railroad work with a civil engineering outfit, but in none of these activities did he accumulate a perceptible fortune. It was in 1908 that he came to Scottsbluff county, accepting a job in the Irrigation Bank, an association which continued for seven and a half years, going from there to the Great Western Sugar Company's office,
clerk in 1916. His administration of the office was so satisfactory that he was reëlected in the fall of 1918, his popularity being demonstrated by the fact that he was elected in a Republican county with a majority of two hundred and seventy votes in 1916, and of four hundred and seventy in the second campaign.
On June 19, 1913, Mr. Kirkham was united in marriage to Miss Willie Gordon. She was born at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and is a daughter of Richmond and Lillie Gordon, retired residents of that place. Mr. Gordon has been an educator during the greater part of his life. Mr. and Mrs. Kirkham had one child, Vivian Lucile, who died when aged six months. They are members of the Christian church. He belongs to the Odd Fellows, both subordinate lodge and Encampment, and has a Grand Lodge degree. During the continuance of the World War, he served freely on the local draft board and contributed to its maintenance in many patriotic ways.
ROBERT G. NEELEY. -- In the younger generation of business men in Nebraska will be found those who, like Robert G. Neeley, register of deeds for Scottsbluff county, early take an understanding interest in public affairs, cultivating serious political convictions, thereby raising the standard of true citizenship, and inevitably become useful and influential in their communities. The broadening effect of this wider vision may be seen in what this younger generation is accomplishing.
Robert G. Neeley was born in the Mitchell valley, Scottsbluff county, Nebraska, December 12, 1894, the son of Robert F. and Jennie (Yates) Neeley, natives of Missouri, who now reside at Gering, where Mr. Neely is engaged in the real estate business. He was the founder of the Gering National Bank and for some years was president of the institution. Prior to that he was in the cattle business and dealt in real estate in Mitchell valley. To his first marriage, with a Miss Burgess, two sons were born: Franklin E., cashier of the Gering National Bank,. and A. Raymond, a druggist at Gering. A son and a daughter have been born to his present marriage: Robert G., register of deeds, who lives at Gering, and Mildred, the wife of E. S. Slafter, who conducts a garage business at Dubois, Wyoming.
Robert G. Neeley obtained his education in the public schools of Gering. For two years he was employed in the Gering National Bank, for the next two years was in the office of the present county judge, for one year served as deputy county clerk, and for more than a year filled office as deputy register of deeds. With this thorough experience in county offices, he was particularly well equipped when he was elected register of deeds in 1918. He is one of the most popular of the county officials, those doing business with his office always finding exact knowledge and courteous treatment.
On April 14, 1917, Mr. Neeley was united in marriage to Miss Eunice M. Barton, who was born near Council Bluffs, Iowa, a daughter of Samuel and Mary Elberta (Heft) Barton. The father was born in England and the mother in Illinois. They came to Nebraska in 1902 and Mr. Barton is carrying on extensive farming enterprises near Gering. Mr. and Mrs. Neeley are members of the Christian church, in which they are somewhat active, and they take part in the pleasant social life of the city. Mr. Neeley is a Republican in his political views but is not illiberal, hence he has many political as well as personal friends.
WILLIAM H. LAMM. -- Public service carries with it the supposition of business efficiency, as well as sterling character, and the progressive little city of Gering has no more trustworthy public official than William H. Lamm, who has been postmaster since 1915. Mr. Lamm followed agricultural pursuits during a large portion of his life, and school teaching also in early manhood, and in every line of endeavor in which he has been engaged, has commanded the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens. The Gering post office is a busy place, but under Mr. Lamm's administration, the work is expedited, and the service entirely satisfactory because of his practical ideas and careful, methodical oversight.
William H. Lamm was born at Thayer, in Union county, Iowa, April 22, 1877, the eldest of nine children born to William and Jane (Knotts) Lamm, both born in 1854 in Iowa, the former near Madison and the latter near Burlington. Her death occurred November 4, 1918. In addition to William H., their children are: Ernest F., a farmer near Glendo, Wyoming; Bert, a farmer near Meridian, Idaho; Bertha, the wife of John M. Gross, farmer and stockman, near Glendo; Bess, the wife of Joseph E. Nisley, farmer, near Gering; Carmie the wife of Harry C. Barton, assistant cashier of the First National Bank of Gering; Lauretta, the wife of Ivor C. Davies, a druggist at Gering; True R., a farmer and stockraiser near Glendo; and Grace, the wife of Peter B. Schmidt, employed in the First National Bank of Scottsbluff. He entered the
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